Magazines Gussy Up Web Sites to Court Ad Dollars

  |  January 20, 2005   |  Comments

SI.com and BusinessWeek Online want to convince users and advertisers they're dailies, not weeklies, despite their magazine heritage.

Sports Illustrated's SI.com was redesigned to create a more effective environment for advertisers and generating additional page views. Meanwhile, BusinessWeek Online's Tech & Science channel was revamped to make it more interactive.

Both sites hope to highlight more frequently updated original content. The new editorial features are intended to keep users coming back more frequently, creating more inventory for advertisers.

SI.com to Highlight Original Daily Content

SI.com's redesign, aimed partially at cutting clutter, eliminated several advertising formats. Staying are the 728 x 90 leaderboard, the 300 x 250 medium rectangle, and the 120 x 600 skyscraper. In the past year, the site has offered as many as six different ad units. With reduced units comes some placement eliminations. In the new design, a maximum of two units will appear per page. Previously, three placements had appeared on some pages.

"We think it's gong to be a much stronger ad environment for our customers," said Gordon McLeod, SI.com president. "The way we'll sell now is that an advertiser owns the page."

McLeod says the redesign also allows the site to better use DoubleClick's DART for Publishers ad-serving system, which it signed on to use in April 2004.

On the editorial side, SI.com is simplifying site navigation and cutting clutter, hoping to be more attractive to users. It wants to highlight the original content -- SI.com posts about 150 original stories a week -- to keep visitors coming back for more.

The site is also exploring video content and advertising. In the past month, SI.com has introduced weekly commentaries on the NFL from Peter King and NCAA basketball information from Seth Davis. Competitor ESPN.com has made video a high-profile part of its offering to advertisers.

"My goal is that maybe a half a year from now we'll have a new video presentation every day of the week," said Paul Fichtenbaum, SI.com's managing editor. "We clearly want to add to that department."

BusinessWeek Continues Its Redesign

BusinessWeek, for its part, rolled out a redesign this week of its Tech & Science channel, also aiming to highlight original content that's updated daily.

"In the macro sense, what we are doing is moving BusinessWeek Online from the perception of being for weekly analysis and perspective to being a daily interactive resource for our core audience," said Gavin Woodward, the site's sales manager.

Woodward says the new site has more interactivity and more daily features, such as viewpoints, blogs, product reviews, and a section on startups.

"We're giving a lot more traction to our users, which, in turn, should give traction to our advertisers to showcase their brands and their products," said Woodward.

The site started its redesign efforts four months ago, when it relaunched its home page. The SmallBiz channel got a new look two months after that. The Investing channel is expected to be the next to get a makeover.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Parker

Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

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